Bradley University is an independent, privately endowed, coeducational institution founded in 1897 as Bradley Polytechnic Institute by Lydia Moss Bradley as a memorial to her husband Tobias. Today, with an enrollment of over 6,000, Bradley offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and 14 graduate degrees in over 30 academic areas, including a doctor of physical therapy degree.
Although the Bradley University Library primarily serves the needs of the University' students and faculty, it is also open to the public. The Chase Special Collections Center is open weekdays from 9:00 to 4:30 when the University is in session. Among the 5,900 linear feet of holdings are a wide variety of formats besides books: manuscripts and letters; maps and atlases; trade catalogs; ephemera; artifacts; and images. The latter number in the thousands and range from slides, prints, and motion pictures to daguerreotypes and glass plate negatives.
The principal focus is on regional history with the majority of materials falling into several groupings which sometimes overlap. The BRADLEYANA COLLECTION covers the history of the University from its founding and includes complete runs of student newspapers, yearbooks, bulletins, and catalogs along with documents, photographs, scrapbooks, ephemera, and artifacts. Among the latter are some personal possessions of Mrs. Bradley and daybooks written in her hand. The CHARLES A. BENNETT COLLECTION revolves around one of Bradley’s founding faculty who was a pioneer in the Industrial Arts Education movement, editor of Industrial Education magazine, and founder of the Manual Arts Press later acquired by McGraw Hill. In the late 1930s, he donated his personal library of some 1,000 books and 6,000 pamphlets including technical materials and course outlines from the early years of the movement in Europe. In addition there are numerous books on art instruction in the first half of the twentieth century.
The CHASE COLLECTION documents the life and career of Philander Chase (1775-1852), the first Episcopal bishop of Illinois and founder of both Kenyon and Jubilee Colleges, who later became the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America. The heart of the collection is a group of 2,600 manuscript letters to and from the controversial educator and cleric. Also included are the 1835 Journal of the Primary Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Illinois printed in Peoria, copies of The Motto published at Jubilee, and a series of pamphlets occasioned by the ecclesiastical trial, conducted by Chase, of the Bishop of New York.
The LINCOLN COLLECTIONS focus not only on the 16th President of the United States but also on the Civil War and its impact on Illinois. In addition to several letters written in Lincoln’s hand and a notebook kept while he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1855, the collections covers what the self-educated Lincoln read and contains copies of books in the same editions as he encountered them. The collection also includes manuscript letters and diaries written by area men fighting in the western theater. The LIBRARY OF THE PEORIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY contains over 1,000 linear feet of items pertaining to the history of Peoria and central Illinois. Among the holdings are: a complete run of city directories beginning with 1844; biographical dictionaries, an index for fifteen area newspapers from 1834 to 1864; Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases and thousands of photographic images of early Peoria many of which can be viewed online at: http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/bra_peoria
The JACK BRADLEY PHOTOJOURNALISM COLLECTION holds thousands of images shot in multiple formats over a 25 year career by an award winning photojournalist from Peoria. Although some are reportorial, the majority were shot for Sunday feature pages in local newspapers and deal with human interest subjects such as small town life, architecture, sports, recreation, religion, cemeteries, politics, and social issues. A portion of the collection is available online at: http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/item_viewer_colls.php?CISOROOT=/carli_colls&CISOPTR=11&CISOBOX=1&REC=13